Sunday, October 28, 2007

Five Questions You May Be Asking

Why now?

Well, obviously, there was nothing Phil Bennett was going to do between now and the end of the season to save his job. The best he was going to do was 5-7 and no bowl. Frankly, nobody sees a four game run in this team. I certainly don’t.

Waiting until the end of the season only did a disservice to SMU and to Phil Bennett. SMU can start the search process and get a head start on every other school in the country (until Baylor fires its coach next week). Bennett doesn’t have to answer questions about his job anymore. Bennett’s job status won’t be a distraction to the team.

Six years ago, Copeland made a terrible mistake and waited until after the next to last game to fire Mike Cavan. Why was it a mistake? Because Cavan won that game, that is why. Copeland fired Cavan after a win over Rice. Did Copeland see anything in that win to convince him that Cavan needed to be fired? Of course not. It just looked bad. But that was par for the course of Copeland in those days.

Why let Bennett coach until the end of the season and not appoint an interim coach?

Why? I ask, “Why not?” Is there any good reason not to let him coach the last four games? I thought of one reason and one reason only: Keep Bennett from pulling any more redshirts so true freshmen can play on special teams. I have to believe that will stop happening anyway. Rest assured, I will be prepared to jump on the field myself if I see another true freshman run out on the field.

The only other reason is out of spite, and that is just a bad reason. Bennett is not going to do any harm by coaching these last four games. It isn’t as if anyone on the current staff is legitimately going to be considered for the head coaching job.

What next?

Just like the Athletic Director search and the Basketball Coach search, we will see a search committee formed. That will probably be finalized by the end of the week.

A search firm will be hired. Most likely, that is Eastman & Beaudine. They were hired to help with the Athletic Director search and the Basketball Coach search. Their hire seems like a given.

The only alternative that I see is to hire Chuck Neinas. Google him and you’ll find a dozen articles all saying he is the best in the business. You may also find a couple of articles accusing him of being unethical. The ethical issues revolve around him being hired by universities to find AD’s and those AD’s end up hiring him to find coaches. That really is not that uncommon (see the preceding paragraph).

How long is this going to take?

Don’t hold your breath. There are only a handful of people worth considering who can be interviewed before the college football regular season is over. If SMU considers doing anything other than hiring someone currently out of coaching, we may not hear anything for a while.

I expect this search to take longer than the search that led to Bennett or Doherty, which were 16 days and 18 days respectively. Accordingly, the story that the search has to be open for 30 days to meet school or government rules doesn’t hold water.

Dude, I read the athletic department was going broke or something. Is that true?

No. While it is true that the athletic department loses money for SMU and Orsini would welcome your contribution towards the basketball practice facility, the athletic department is in no worse financial shape than it has been the past several years. Anecdotally, SMU athletics was in far worse shape in 1936, when if not for the money that went along with the invitation to the Rose Bowl, old Ownby Stadium might have been foreclosed upon.

I have some experience with the press. One thing I know is that reporters like a narrative. Regardless of the reality, reporters report facts that fit the story they want to tell. Katie the Greek, for whatever reason, wanted to tell a story of an athletic department in trouble, rather than just a football program. I don’t know why. Maybe it is because SMU made her work on a Sunday.

I guarantee you SMU will pay the next coach more than the last coach.

Bonus question: Don’t you have a list of candidates or something?

In due time.


Anonymous said...

Your timeline is off on Copeland's dismissal of Cavan. Ironically, Copeland let Cavan go the day after the loss at Tulsa in 2001. Cavan then coached the final two games of the season - the home win over Rice, then the loss at UNC.

All in all, though, an interesting blog. You hit the nail on the head of most everything. I'll disagree on one other point - SMU is losing tons of money on athletics and, from what I understand, went further down last year than ever before.

That said, Turner might have increased the athletics subsidy in Orsini's first year in an effort to put some pieces in place. I'm sure the checkbook will be open again for this hire. Wouldn't surprise me if SMU ended up paying close to $1M.

Anonymous said...

the advertising campaign that was used this year turned out to have been wasted money, however, I think Orsini can show that expenditure to prospective coaches to help sell the position of head coach. Tell them more is available for a winner.

I think Bennett is leaving the program in better shape than he found it. For example, being able to redshirt most of his incoming freshmen, using Ford Stadium as his summer camp site, letting Ford Stadium be used for high school football and an upgrade in recruits from the Cavan disaster. If only he had been able to win a few more games. Oh yeah, and if only he had not been responsible for those nasty blue helmets.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

The old adage about defense winning games is true. Georgia Tech's Defensive Coordinator/Asst head coach Jon Tenuta is one of the top strategy guys in the nation. If SMU wants to win games, I agree they need to hire Jon Tenuta as there head coach.